Joan Freeman receives presidential nomination from Cork City Council

Businessman Gavin Duffy gets backing for Áras bid from councillors in Meath

Independent Senator Joan Freeman received her first nomination from Cork City Council on Monday night to run for the presidency.

Nine Fianna Fáil councillors and four independents, including Lord Mayor Cllr Mick Finn and one Fine Gael councillor backed her after hearing a presentation where she spoke about how she would highlight mental health if elected to the Áras.

There were 11 abstentions from Fine Gael, Sinn Féin and Solidarity councillors.

Afterwards the Pieta House founder said she was deeply grateful to Cork City Council and said that she always had fond memories of Cork from her work with Pieta House and the city had again come good for her in her bid to get a presidential nomination.

“I am absolutely thrilled and for this to happen in Cork, I never expected it. It’s the first council to nominate me. I go to Roscommon on Wednesday and then back her to Cork County Council on Friday but I am absolutely delighted with this result here tonight.” Ms Freeman needs four nominations to secure a place on the ballot paper.

Senator Freeman was one of six candidates to address Cork City Council together with businessman Gavin Duffy, farmer John Groarke, Donald Trump admirer Sarah Louise Mulligan, journalist, Gemma O'Doherty and musician, Jimmy Smyth.

Earlier on Monday Mr Duffy received his first nomination after Meath County Council voted for him.

Mr Duffy secured 17 votes, followed by businessman Seán Gallagher with seven and Ms Freeman who received two. Of the 40 councillors, 11 abstained and three were absent.

At least 12 county and city councils are expected to hold votes to nominate Independent candidates for the presidential election this week, with Mr Gallagher the frontrunner to get the first endorsement.

Ten prospective candidates have already addressed councils with an 11th, businessman and Dragons' Den panellist Peter Casey expected to address Leitrim County Council on Monday.

A number of other councils are expected to vote on presidential nominations, or hear submissions from candidates.

They are Meath, Cork City, Leitrim, Kerry and Monaghan. Other councils who will hear from councillors in the next week include Clare, Roscommon, Fingal, Offaly and Cavan, which is expected to endorse Mr Gallagher.

Wexford was due to discuss nominations but the meeting has been adjourned following the death of the mother of the council chairman, Keith Doyle.

Mr Gallagher is believed to have secured sufficient backing in Leitrim, Roscommon, Cavan and Wexford, which will give him the required minimum of four local authorities.

On Monday Mr Duffy addressed Kerry County Council and called for the development of a rail, road and broadband corridor from Derry to Kerry to try and counter the growing imbalance between Dublin and the West coast.

Mr Duffy said he believed the benefits of the prosperity currently being enjoyed by Dublin needs to spread out into the provinces. He said if Dublin continues to expand its population at existing rates, it will “end up sliding in the sea”.

Mr Duffy said while he understood the constitutional restrictions of the presidency, he believed that there was scope within the office for encouraging enterprise and ensuring a fairer distribution of economic benefits to every region.

On Monday, Mr Gallagher told Leitrim County Council the Frontline programme featuring ‘tweetgate’ had “changed the outcome “of the 2011 presidential election.

Mr Duffy and Ms Freeman are seen as the next most likely to secure four council endorsements.

Until now Mr Duffy, Patrick Feeney, Ms Freeman, John Groarke, Marie Goretti Moylan, Sarah Louise Mulligan, Kevin Sharkey, Gemma O'Doherty and James Smyth have addressed councils.